24 June 2017

Garden Project: Done!

It's been a busy week around here and I'm super-excited to share that the big garden project I've been planning for a very long time is DONE!

Back in 2014, I had a landscape architect who specializes in perennials draw up some plans to re-do the garden spaces to create a cottage-type garden feel. Long story short, it took awhile to move from paper to action. Because the scope of the project ended up larger than I anticipated, I hired a landscape company to tweak the designs, help select the plants, and do the installation. It was way too much for me to do with my little shovel on my own!

Here's a photo of one end of the large bed now that it has been re-done. I'm very happy with how it all turned out!

In today's post I will share the photos I took before we started and during the process, then in the next post I'll share details of how the beds look now. I took a LOT of pictures (as usual)!

Because I this project was in the works, I haven't been tending to my flower beds. The perennials had gotten way too large and overgrown, but I knew they were going to be split and moved so I wanted to keep them until I knew how much I'd need in the new beds.

 You can see gaps throughout the garden. Some of the gaps are from plants we removed last fall. Other gaps are due to spacing issues I've struggled with for years.

 The beds were expanded last summer so the empty space at the edges is all new. The bed shapes were changed slightly so they would have a better flow.

As you round the corner to the side of the house, things get pretty spotty. 

Here's the World's Thorniest Rose Bush, which the guys moved to this spot last fall. It's doing well but I sure hope it blooms!

  My poor tiger lilies (which came from my grandma's house) are looking pretty thin. Obviously I lost some over the winter. :(

The garden along the back of the garage had become a huge overgrown mess. This project was originally planned for the first part of May, so I didn't worry about how it looked. As the weeks wore on and I got pushed back on the schedule, it started looking worse and worse! But I knew we were going to reuse some of this plant material so I just tried to ignore it. :(

 Here's a "before" view of the two main areas looking down from an upstairs window.

From this same window, you can see into the garden at the back of the yard (which wasn't slated for any work) and the new Japanese lilac tree they planted for us last fall. Those tracks in the yard are from the root system of the large locust tree we had removed from that space. I hated to see it go but it was too close to the house.

 After an early morning rainstorm, the sun broke through just in time for the work to begin! We moved the bird baths and all the patio pots close to the house to allow room for the guys to work.

 When my new plants arrived on the back of the truck, I was excited to see all the different bloom colors and leaf textures! The plan was coming to life!

The guys started by removing all of my existing perennials. It was quite a job because they were so large! But they were extremely efficient and much better diggers than I am. Still, it was a bit of a shock to see my plants lying in the yard!

There were a LOT of plants to be removed. YIKES!

With all of the plants out in the yard, it was easy to see which ones needed to be split and re-used in the new plan. Since they were so overgrown, I had plenty of extras to share with friends!

Once the beds were clear, the landscape designer started laying out the plants according to the plan, beginning with the transplants. We re-used all of my existing perennials but nearly all were moved to new spots. We kept the lead plant in place because, as a prairie plant, its roots can go 15 feet deep!

 Here you can see one of the beds with the transplants and new plant material placed. The spacing is a bit closer than some people might want, but that was done intentionally to more quickly achieve a cottage garden feel. The close spacing will definitely force me to keep up with maintenance!

After dividing my perennials, we had a LOT of extras. They were moved to a shady location so I could sort them out for friends and neighbors. Eventually this whole area was filled with divided plants!

This is just a fraction of the plants I was able to give to friends and neighbors. If you love perennials, you know that it is very fun to share! I'm happy that I was able to find homes for every single one of my babies!

 I'll share the rest of my "after" photos in another post, but here is one example of how we were able to re-use and move my perennials. The shade garden in front of the house (which was not part of this project) had quite a few gaps, so we moved hostas from the back yard to fill in those areas. These poor hostas used to get shade when the locust tree was in place, but once we removed it they suffered with too much sun. They'll be much happier in front where it is shady for a good portion of the day.

While it needs some tidying up, I love the mix of colors and textures in this garden. I re-worked this bed several years ago and am so pleased with how it has done. Check out what it looked like before in this post! YIKES!

Other hostas were moved to the front of the "no man's land" bed at the back of the yard. This is actually a very pretty bed when the lilacs and bridal wreath are in bloom, but otherwise there's not a lot going on out here. The original plans had some new plantings suggested for this area but I didn't pursue it due to cost. I do love the look of hostas there so will probably just continue to add them to the bed.

I'm so happy to see this project completed and I already love the new spaces! I'll share the rest of my "after" photos in the next post.

Happy gardening!

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