Friday, October 30, 2015

From the Neglected Corner Grew a Garden

Neglected no more! This corner is finally getting the attention it deserves. From our den you look out across the deck and across the lawn to this corner. 
Because we see it from inside the house and from the deck where we spend a great deal of time, you would think we would have put some effort into making it pretty. Unfortunately it was abandoned long ago as the tangle of rose, duranta and asparagus fern created a mass of thorns 15 ft wide.
Oct. 2014
It was virtually impenetrable, with grass growing up into the branches 4 ft high. To say that it was a chore to cut it back does not do justice to that horrible weekend I spent attacking it.
Nov. 2014
The refuse pile was 10 x 10 x 5, my arms were scratched and battered but it was done. The corner was revealed. This area was once a pretty pond I made on a whim one summer. I love a challenging project and that pond turned out amazingly beautiful. I had no idea the amount of time it would take to maintain a pond, so it came out when my patience with it ran out. The pond was made with a flexible liner, and I lined it with river rock which I carried myself in 80 pound bags, lots of bags. I'm not carrying them out, so here they stay. You can see them to the right near the bench. Those rocks are one of the reasons this corner had been ignored. In order to make the area usable, the rocks had to be collected and piled in one area, next to the wall.
Once the vines were pruned and the rocks collected, a small section was prepared and planted with tomatillos and melons this past spring.
March 2015
May 2015
Behind the melons I planted a dwarf nectarine and a dwarf plum tree. As you can see, the area remained an eyesore but at least it was productive over the summer. Little by little I killed off the grass by covering it with cardboard and not watering it. As a section died, I dug it up and eventually the grass and weeds were gone.

Because we have a dog, a fence is necessary. Bessie doesn't test her limits so a 3 ft wire fence reinforced with rebar is adequate.
I spray painted the rebar a flat black so it would be less obvious.
The arch I found online after searching stores in our area with no success. I had a specific look in mind, and I wanted one with a gate. After looking and looking I decided to buy this arch and make the gate out of two pieces of fencing.
This way the gate matches the other gates in our garden. Here is my post with instructions on how I made the gates. It's simple and uses garden stakes, eye bolts, washers and nuts.
I spray painted the stakes and hardware flat black.
To latch the gate, I used a garden "U" stake that is designed to hold down soaker hoses. It just happened to be the perfect width so I cut one end shorter and bent the longer end so that it can't come out. It works just fine for our situation but a determined dog would require a different set up.
The arch is the perfect width to work with our gates. The tricky part was getting it all level. Our yard is slightly sloped, so using a level was key to making it look right.
After the fence and arbor were in, the fun could begin...planting! Clearly the first thing that had to happen was covering that ugly pink wall.
This is the river rock area so options are few, and duranta is the perfect choice. There is already one growing beautifully in the corner, covered in orange berries. It has purple flowers from spring through summer.
Why not grow another one next to it? You can see the small green plant among the river rock in the photo below. I only wish it could grow overnight to cover that wall, but by this time next year it will be as tall as the wall or taller. What a vigorous plant it is! In the center are my potted papaya plants that I have grown from seed. They are next to be planted. I'll thin them to one plant once they show their sex. The plum and nectarine are near the back fence.
On one side of the arch I planted a guava tree. I can't wait for these fruit trees to produce!
Along the fence some annuals and perennials give instant color, and bulbs will bring spring cheer. I sowed sweet peas on either side of the arch and once they finish their show I'll plant a climbing rose on one side.
My vision for this space is for it to be overgrown and secluded. That will take time. It will be a secret garden, Andie's way.



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