Saturday, April 20, 2013

the color purple

Thursday was warm and sunny so it was spent working in the garden. Actually, strike that, it was spent in equal parts in the street and on the sidewalk. As is typical, I'm the crazy woman, doing crazy things, with the crazy house, for all the street to laugh at. Oh well, as long as no one bothers my plants I'm ok with it. And by bothers I mean things like driving through cones over newly paved curbs or breaking the buds off my smoke trees. oy. . .

In an effort to distract the neighbors from the madness that is our house we're planting the newly formed berm and hellstrip. The berm fills in part of what was our driveway when we bought the house (we've since moved it to it's original location), and the hellstrip was redone and expanded when we redid the sidewalks last fall. In a mad dash to get trees in the ground last fall we purchased two Grace smoke trees, the purple leafed, pink blossomed tree cultivar. We couldn't find any locally, so we purchased from Whitman Farms in Oregon (who're wonderful by the way). We had originally planned on using them for all of our street trees (we have 120 feet of frontage), but in a case of what would the neighbors think, we abandoned that plan (too Dr. Seussian, too many purple plants - I may be obsessed). Instead, we'll plant some crimson cloud hawthorns to match the trees on the other side of the street (only that side has street trees), but it'll have to wait because frankly, trees cost money. As for why we're not planting behemoths (copper or purple beeches come to mind), well, we're the side with the power lines.

smoke tree, a row of these
would look silly, yes?
copper beech, lovely, but
not worth cutting my oaks
down over

What we can do is rehome some of our many freecycle plants, and the 50 cent end of season big box store plants that made it through winter. The plan is to dig up as much as the stuff that passes for dirt from the hellstrip, replace it with compost (we bought some called organic claybraker), add a brick border, and see what survives. We added a strip of bricks parallel to the walkway which will hopefully discourage people from walking through the landscaping, and a soldier course of bricks will wrap around the planting beds. Hopefully the raised bricks will keep the dirt and such in place, and alert people to the fact that someone loves those plants . . .

smoke tree, black parrot
tulips and some sort of
dark red iris
daylilies, wine and
roses weigela

the new burial mound in question
gratuitous cat shot


  1. There is no such thing as too many purple plants. I would love to see a birds eye illustration of your plot - there's so much whimsy and interest!

    1. Hahaha, I'd love to see a bird's eye illustration too, sadly, I'm a fly-by-seat-of-my-pants type landscaper, so planning isn't my strong suit (not to mention there are still piles of "salvage" littering the landscape).

  2. You have indeed put lots of work into your landscaping! And trees do cost lots of money. I love purple and also love smoke trees! It should all turn out well!

    1. Purple plants non-withstanding, at least everything is finally starting to look landscaped! Hopefully all the odds and ends will get stored away by summer.

  3. I agree with your second thoughts on the row of smoke trees. They're so distinctive, having a whole rank of them would diminish them as individuals. And yeah, look like something out of Dr. Suess (LOL!). Purple is lovely, but give it contrast so it'll stand out.

    The work you've got completed on the hellstrip looks really good! What are you putting down under the bricks? Anything? I've been meaning for years to edge my back yard borders in salvaged brick, but I find the whole sand-and-gravel substrate method intimidating. Oh, I could install it all right; the problem is how to buy the stuff in bulk with me with no pick-'em-up truck and no place to dump it till it's used. Those little bags from the DIY store are so danged expensive . . . I'd love to think I could get away with just some visqueen under the brick, oh, yeah.

    And oh, no shot of an adorable kitteh is gratuitous. *hits Like sebrill tymez*

    Kate H.

    1. You're dead on with the purple, just dark plants ends up making everything look dead - not the look I'm going for. We're not putting anything under the border bricks, they really don't need it. Take a look at the pathway with the pointed ends up - rugged and indestructible (I've used this type of border at 3 houses), unless you're building them in a swamp!


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